In a previous article on Getting Fit for Hiking, we gave you suggestions for building up your overall physical hiking abilities. However, it is very easy to get too busy to keep up a training program. If this happens before an extended journey, you could make an intensified physical preparation part of your pre-hike planning.
Preparing your Hips & Shoulders
You need to start pre-hike training program at least 3 weeks before the planned trip to get your hips and shoulders used to a heavy backpack. The best way to do this is by carrying a backpack whenever the opportunity arises. Steadily increase the backpack load and the duration you are carrying it. If you have challenging terrain nearby, use it for training on steep inclines and rough surfaces. By doing this, you will decrease the chances of suffering from skin irritations or abrasions on the pressure points where the back meets the backpack.
Preparing your Feet, Legs & Lungs
Jogging and running are some of the best ways to build your overall fitness level while preparing legs and feet for the rough times ahead. Running on steep inclines will dramatically increase the intensity of your workout and also helps to prepare your feet, ankles and knees for the differences in uphill, downhill and level surfaces. Mix the backpack training with this more intensive uphill/downhill running. But be very careful running downhill. It is easy to injure yourself and the pounding is hard on the knees.
In general, you will want to increase your walking and physical exercise in the period before your hiking trip. But physical preparation is just a small part in your overall hiking preparation.